What is the best Bible translation: the one you read

There is a lot of debate as to what is the best Bible translation to
read; this post will not be one of those debates. I want to help you
make a decision based on what you have available to you, right now, in
your hands. I will also give you a few tips on expanding your Bible
reading habits that I know will increase your understanding of
Scriptures.

Each translation has its pros and cons, but I will not be getting
into that here. Many others have done this work in great detail, and I
would refer you to their studies if you would like more information on
that topic.

A Comical Twist:

(actual event, names have been withheld)

I once witnessed a somewhat heated discussion as to which
translation was the best. One of the participants grew frustrated with
the debate and emphatically stated about the version that they were
using “If it was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for
me.”

I encourage you to read that again before moving on. The debate about
which translation to read takes a comical twist when people don’t even
realize that the Apostle Paul wrote a big part of the New Testament, in
Greek, and that the translation that they are reading, was completed some
1500+ years AFTER he died.

A Comical Twist 2:

(actual event, names have been withheld)

On another occasion my wife was patiently listening to someone
authoritatively declare that the translation that they were using was
the ONE and ONLY divinely inspired one. Now, this discussion was taking
place with a native English-speaking person visiting Nicaragua where the
commonly spoken language is Spanish and not English. When the person
paused, my wife asked them, “and what about the Spanish speaking people
who don’t have access to the ONE and ONLY divinely inspired translation,
which translation should they use?”.

The visitor was left speechless and did not understand how the ONE and ONLY divinely inspired translation was not available in Spanish. The expression on the face of this person was priceless when they were told that the Spanish Reina Valera​ translation (1602) was actually published before before the English King James​​ translation (1611).

I encourage you to read that again before moving on. The debate about
which translation to read takes a comical twist when people don’t
realize that there is more than one language spoken in the world, and
that the Bible has been translated in its entirety to more than 600
languages (and parts of the Bible into many more languages).

A Simple Decision

Picking which Bible translation to use is actually not as difficult
as it seems. Look around your home and pick up the Bible or one of the
Bibles you have available to you. That is the Bible you should be
reading. If may seem a little simplistic, and maybe even sound
dismissive, but bear with me for a minute.

If as much time and energy was placed into reading the Bible as is
spent debating which Bible version is the best to read… I think you
know where this is going.

Too many Bibles sit in homes, on tables, in drawers, on bookshelves
or in boxes. Bibles of different translations collecting dust for lack
of use. Your decision is actually a simple one, take the Bible that you
have in your hands, open it, and read it.

My Experience

When I first heard the Gospel at the age of 7 years the preachers
were using the King James Version (KJV). It is the version I used when
reading the Bible and when going to Sunday School and to memorize
verses. You could say that it is the version I grew up with.

As I grew up, I enjoyed reading the KJV and had no difficulty in
understanding it, nor difficulty in memorizing verses. When I was a
young teenager, a friend of one of my Uncles gave my brother and me a
brand new Student International Version Study Bible (NIV). I would
sometimes take it out and look at it and go through some of the
information presented about each of the books and analyze some of the
charts and timelines. But my “go to” Bible for reading and studying was
still the KJV.

After I got married, and after our daughters were born, I was going
through the Gospel of John. I had read it in the KJV and I was curious
as to how it read in the NIV. The decision to read the Gospel of John in
the NIV changed my view of Scripture. Reading through the stories in a
version I was not familiar with, allowed me to take note of details I
had become accustomed to reading and just glossed over without giving
them much thought. It renewed my excitement about reading the Word of
God, and sparked a new desire to dig deeper into it’s message.

Get out of your comfort zone

Likely most everyone has a favourite translation that they use. If
you use one specific Bible for your reading and studying, you may even
have a favourite Bible with some markings, highlights and notes.
Everyone once in a while, I would encourage you to get out of your
comfort zone.

I don’t mean that you need to learn Greek or Hebrew. For most of us,
learning a second language of any kind is hard enough, let alone
languages as complex as Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew. By “getting
out of your comfort zone”, I mean pick up a different translation, one
that you are not used to reading. I think you might be surprised at how
it will stimulate a new or deeper perspective on many of the stories you
know and love.

Action Point: Pick up a Bible and Read it

  1. Find a Bible; maybe a Bible that was given to you as a gift or a
    Bible you picked up on sale or a Bible you won as a prize. Anyone of
    them will do. If you don’t have a Bible at hand, you can read one online
    for free, or go to a bookstore to purchase one, or buy one online. It
    doesn’t need to be fancy or fashionable, it just needs to be a Bible.
  2. If you want to find out more about the option of listening to the reading of the Bible click here.
  3. Read the Bible. Just start reading. I recommend the Gospel of John from start to finish, then moving on to other passages.
  4. If you have not already done so, please establish a
    personal Bible Reading Plan. In order to benefit from the Bible Study
    Lessons you will need to keep reading the Bible even if it is only a
    short time or a few chapters per day.

    1. Visit this post to select and download your Printable Bible Reading Plan.
  5. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Has reading a different version of the Scriptures impacted you in any way?


 

 

12 thoughts on “What is the best Bible translation: the one you read”

  1. Great post! I have read the Bible three times, except for Chronicles because once was enough. I like New King James and New American Standard Version, which I find easiest to read.

    What do you think the greatest takeaway is from the Bible?

    1. I appreciate your comment on which version you like to read.
      The Bible to me is like a letter from my Creator. A message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
      So many more books could and have been written about history, about truth, about a lot of things.
      God chose to leave us a library of books with one main focal point.
      I think that John sums it up pretty well in John 20:30-31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

  2. Hello,

    I am not a Christian or a very religious person. I kinda enjoy knowing and understanding bits from different cultures, as well as religions. So, it’s quite lucky that I happen to know some of the stories in the Bible! Sorry if I make any mistake here, I mean no offence or disrespect, do you refer them as stories?

    Though, I never know there are different translations of the Bible! Now I know a little bit more! Thanks for tis article! 🙂

    1. Hi Crystal,
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
      I don’t get offended if someone refers to them as stories. I believe that the Bible is full of stories that are historically true and factual.
      It is actually quite surprising how many different translations exist and it seems like a new one is coming out every year.
      Some are easier to read than others. If you have a chance to start reading a Bible, I think you might come to find it as delightful as eating one of your amazing cakes. The first mouthful I would take would be John chapters 1 to 3.

  3. It’s crazy what people will argue about. Everyone is going to have their own opinion about what translation is the best one or the divine one. I have 2 bibles in my house, one in English and one in Spanish. My husband and I both speak Spanish and English. But I’ve found that it’s easier for me to understand the Bible in English. My husband reads the Spanish with no problems. I think that what’s important is for people to read the bible, no matter the translation. 

    1. What an interesting example within one household. A couple who reads the Bible, but one in English and one in Spanish. Good thing you guys don’t argue about which is the “best” version to read, you’d never get to actually reading it.

      Since I learned Spanish about 10 years ago, I do most of my reading in Spanish. Of course, it is probably related to the fact that all my Bible teaching is done in Spanish here in Nicaragua. I must say though, that I prefer reading in Spanish than in English, maybe it’s the language, or the translation, but I find it “sabroso”.

      Gracias por compartir. Saludos.

  4. Great post. I had a discussion with my workmate about bible translation , most translated bibles are based on culture of the language . My country is a good example. when i read in my mother tongue i find some different verses because in our culture there are some forbidden words, Ex: greet each other with a holy kiss in my mother tongue they can’t use kiss because it is not allowed to kiss in public so they prefer to say hug each other. Amazing no?

    For me ,i don’t care about the version what i care about is the fruit of the lord’s word i find in it.

    Thank you

    1. You make a good point, and many people get caught up with the cultural idioms found in Scripture. Sometimes when they don’t understand the idioms, they throw them out instead of trying to understand what they mean.

      The example you give helps to illustrate the point. In your culture, kissing in public is not permitted, and reading such an expression in the Scriptures might even be considered disrespectful and offensive. The translators did not change the Scriptures when they wrote “hug each other”. The translators recognized that the idiom as such might cause an issue in that culture. What they did was transfer the intent of the idiom, which refers to an affectionate salutation, and provided a socially acceptable interpretation related to the culture.

      One must remember that much of the Scriptures was written with the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob in mind. As such, much of the examples, stories and even teachings of Christ must be looked at under that light. It does not mean that they are not relevant to us, it just means that we need to dig a little deeper to understand them.

      Keep reading, and a “holy hug” to you.

  5. I appreciate your post on the different translations of the Bible. I am not a christian or a catholic but I have still done some Bible Study. Unfortunately, what I have found is that there really are different VERSIONS of the Bible and not simply different translations.

    I say versions here because in some of them, whole verses to books would be completely eliminated. As such, there is no way to really find out which VERSION of the Bible really speaks the truth, at least, not to 100%.

    In my study, I have found out that the RSV (although not COMPLETELY the same as the original scriptures of old) is the closest to match the oldest scriptures dating from 200 – 300 AD. The more it matches the oldest known scriptures, the more authentic it is believed to be.

    It would be great if you could write about the RSV on your blog… 🙂

    1. Thank your for sharing your thoughts.

      There is certainly much debate as to what are the “real Scriptures”. I think one of the reasons that there are so many translations is that people are continually trying the get them “right”. When more ancient documents appear, and a new understanding of the original languages comes to light, it prompts people to update old translations or produce new ones.

      There are some passages that have been identified as suspect in their authenticity and some wonder if they should be excluded. Additionally, the Apocrypha (a number of books in the Old Testament) has been included in some translations and not in others. These issues are great for debate, but whether they are included or not, does not take away from the message of the Scriptures. To use an old saying, some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Many focus on some minute details and don’t see the full picture.

      On another note, there are definitely some versions that I would consider totally perverted versions. Versions where the “translators” (a very loosely used term in this case), have translated the Bible according to their bias and have twisted the Scriptures to suit their rebellious ways. There are several of note in circulation. Some of these literally change the overall message of the Scriptures.

      It is an interesting study to find out and understand the origins of the Bible and the translations that exist. One could conclude that not one is perfect, and argue that they may not be complete, and that they may have some “errors” (as some would say). I think John summarizes pretty well what we do have and why we have it: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

      The message of the Scriptures is pretty clear from Genesis to Revelation and it all points to the Gospel. I encourage you to read the following post: What is the Christian Gospel for an overview.

      Thank you for the suggestion for looking into the RSV. I will add it to my “to do” list and see if I can’t get a post written about it and some other versions in the future.

  6.  Even if I am not a Christian, I have many bible around because many times people come and give us. Simple decision to read bible is just read the bible near you. It is so much true.

    Something you liked in childhood is always special and stays with you like your KJV.

    I haven’t read a full bible but definitely have read parts and bits and have enjoyed the morals. I am sure even if I don’t remember much I am my life have been internally influenced by it making me better.

    I believe it is easier to get a faster grasp on the translated version when you already know a subject. 

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    Anusuya

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

      I agree that if you know a little bit about something, it is easier to learn more about it.

      Part of the purpose of the CreatorClues website is to introduce the subject of the Bible and subjects of the Bible so that people who want to read it have a something to start with and don’t feel so overwhelmed by its size.

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